If you haven’t seen the Oscar winning Best Picture The King’s Speech, make it a priority. Here’s my plot summary: Prince Albert, known as “Bertie,” reluctantly ascends to the throne of Great Britain to become King George VI. Bertie’s speech therapist, Lionel Logue, helps the monarch overcome chronic stuttering to deliver a speech that changed the world.

This film offers so many great lessons but I will focus on those that will make you a better presenter.

Embrace The New Communication Medium
About living in a new era of global radio, Bertie states, “a king can no longer get by in life solely by looking good in a regal uniform and knowing how to battle while riding a horse.” The equivalent is true for the modern Principal or Marketing Director. We can’t get by with simply a nice headshot and bio on our website. Prospective clients want to know how we think and what we believe. Presentation Interviews and Web Video are both great ways to demonstrate this.

A Great Presenter is a Great Leader
The King must capture the confidence of the British people if they are to rally against Nazi Germany. The king’s speech, thus the title of the film, is what inspires the nation to enter World War II. Being a great presenter communicates that you are to be trusted and that you are great at what you do. In an interview, prospective clients judge your technical ability based on what’s in front of them, which are your presentation skills.

Ask for Help
You may not be a presentation expert, but you can hire one. A coach can provide objective feedback, help you develop content and provide accountability for your team to practice delivery. Whether you are an athlete, an executive, or the King of England, nobody achieves greatness without guidance.

Like Lionel Logue, LecoursDesign now offers executive coaching and group training for presentations and speaking. This complements our ability to design stunning slide decks. From verbal to visual, we’ve got you covered.

Presenting is a Learned Habit
There is a common misconception that great speakers and presenters are born, not made. The arc of improvement that Bertie demonstrates throughout the film exemplifies that Presenting is a learned habit. You can learn to be great. Either hire a private coach or attend a local Toastmasters meeting to improve your skills.

You Have a Voice
At a pivotal point in the movie, Lionel Logue asks a frustrated Bertie “why should I waste my time listening to you?” Bertie screams back, “Because I have a voice!” We all have a unique voice””a distinct point of view that only we can own. The challenge is to develop the confidence to communicate our voice with such enthusiasm that our clients believe that our voice/vision will solve their problem.

Distract Your Fear
In Bertie’s first coaching session, Lionel uses music to distract Bertie from how he sounds which gets him to focus on his story. Bertie is passionate about his story and you are passionate about yours. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” It’s ok to be nervous or scared when you present. Harness that energy as passion for your subject and it will infect your audience (in a good way).

Use Technology to Help You Improve
There is a point in the movie when Lionel records Bertie speaking into a gramophone and gives him the recording. The effect of listening to his own voice is incredibly therapeutic. It can be beneficial for you too. It is impossible to objectively analyze our own speaking voice in the moment. So use the voice memo function on your smart phone, or even better, video record yourself speaking to listen (and see) where you need improvement.

Whether you have weak presentation skills or not, we all have obstacles in our path to greatness. Be as courageous as Bertie in facing those shortcomings, and who knows, you may just change the world.

There are so many other great lessons from the film. What did you take away?

LecoursDesign is a branding and digital marketing agency helping A/E/C* firms attract clients and talent.
* A/E/C = Architecture / Engineering Construction (but you already knew that)
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